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Dial H #1 - What's the 411? Review

4

A new take on the old familiar concept. China Miéville and Mateus Santolouco unleash a new hero as part of the "Second Wave" on the "New 52."

If you're looking for a new comic series and a new type of hero, this is a book you'll want to check out.

The Good

I had read a couple appearances with the Dial H for Hero idea. I thought it was an interesting idea, being able to simply dial and become a different hero. From what I recall, many of the stories came across as a little cheesy. That is not what you're going to get here.

From the incredible Brian Bolland cover, you immediately get a slight creepy vibe before you even open the book. I will admit, I am a sucker for Bolland's art and despite its simple nature, I absolutely love the imagery.

The great thing for new (and old) readers is we are introduced to some new characters right away. You do not need to a thing about the H-Dial and the history of those that used it. (If you are so inclined, be sure to check out the Dial H for Hero page to see all the different hero identities that have appeared over the years).

Not all heroes are cut from the same cloth. That's what is a breath-taking treat when reading this issue. We already have multiple titles with the perfect heroes or ones full of angst as well as the troubled, down on his luck hero. We have something a bit different here. It's not fully clear where this is going to go but you can bet I am already committed to finding out.

Santolouco's art sets the mood for this dark and dreary corner of the DC Universe. It's not dark in a scary or supernatural way, but dark in a more sad or depressed nature. Again, this sets the book apart from the other titles on the shelf along with the fact that even the characters don't look like your typical main characters. And the 'heroes' we see in this issue are something to see.

The Bad

While it is a first issue and is meant to lure us in, there are some unanswered questions. There's no explanation as to the purpose or origin of the H-Dial. It's not so much of a problem that it will frustrate readers but it's possible some readers might wish for a little more explanation.

I do dig Santolouco's art but there were some times the raw nature of the character designs distracted me. Nelse's nose, for example, felt like it changed a tiny bit at moments. It was almost as pointy as Penguin's in some panels and a little more subdued in others.

As part of the "Second Wave," this sure doesn't feel like it's part of the DC Universe. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I could easily see this in its own little corner in the Vertigo universe but that isn't the case. With the darker and slightly more mature angle, I'm almost afraid of what will happen when the obligatory superhero appearance has to occur.

The Verdict

I had read a couple Dial H for Hero stories in the past. I wasn't sure how it would play out in today's comics and in the "New 52." The darker, more mature approach doesn't feel as if its part of the "New 52" universe so we'll have to wait and see how it is incorporated. The concept and the characters here are easily approachable for new readers. There is no need to know anything about the H-Dial or the past users of it. For all we know, there is no past history in this new DC Universe. China Miéville's take on the idea and set up for the series has definitely aroused my curiosity. There is an extreme mysterious nature to the events that occur so we have to have a little faith that this series will be as good as this issue is setting it up to be. I don't know what's going to happen next and I don't want any clues. I can't wait for the next issue to find out first hand. This wasn't one of the "Second Wave" books I thought would be at the top of my list but its made a great debut as a new series. Find some spare change and dial up a taxi to take you to the comic shop so you can pick up this issue.

20 Comments
Posted by jsphsmth

Should be an amazing addition to the Dark group. Love the variant cover.

Hour and a half until my LCS opens. Too long a wait for this weeks four Second Wave releases.

Posted by Baberaham_Lincoln

@jsphsmth: Trust me, its freaking awesome, oh and go pick up Earth 2 #1 !!!!

One love

Posted by zackattack529

spot on in this review.

when i heard of this title i was like...why not just put it in the Vertigo scetion. because this is the perfect book for Vertigo and in that corner theyd be able to get away with more darker and gritty storytelling as well as art...in the main DCnU they can go pretty dark...but not TOO dark..they still have to appeal to the light superhero cliche light at the end of the tunnel and crossover epics and what not...it just doesnt seem to be on par with this title. i hope this book RARLEy crossover with the other titles...not crossing over would be better. haha but i swear if i see superman or green lantern ever in this title tarnishing it with their cheesy antics. the book gets dropped. you have been warned DC.

Posted by kennybaese

It might just be the Bolland cover, in fact it's probably mostly the Bolland cover, but reading the review I'm definitely getting a very kind of Animal Man, Swamp Thing, horror book vibe from this thing. It definitely has me intrigued. I don't know that my wallet can handle another release right now though.

Posted by Or35ti

I'm either getting this or the Ravagers... this is really cool looking tho

Posted by Technoman

Heh heh heh... you made a pun!

Posted by Ms. Omega

Love Dial H cant wait to pick it up.

Posted by doordoor123

I actually loved both of the heroes in this. I'll be sad if we don't see them again.

That is my only problem with the book; characters will probably come and go.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I WILL HAVE

Posted by The Stegman
Think I'll pass on this one.
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Posted by longbowhunter

Super bizarre! This issue is pretty much what I was expecting and thats a good thing. Mateus Santolouco's art works really well with this book. Some of the hero highlights for me were Boy Chimney conjuring howler monkeys out of smoke and Capt. Lacrymose powering up by feeding on people's tears. This issue didnt blow me away but its so weird I've gotta pick up issue #2.

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Posted by CombatSpoon86

I really dug this issue. Good enough for me to try the 2nd issue. The bizarre can be a good thing

Posted by Afro_Warrior

Loved this book. I went into it, expecting a fair amount considering China's past work, and i came out with much more than i expected.

I found the interaction between Nelson and the people he transforms into, to be an interesting one, that is hopefully explored in depth later on. It seems that when he transforms, he becomes this new character, whether Boy Chimney or someone new, yet retains the memories of himself as Nelson and his new transformation.

Really Excited to see where we'll go next!

Posted by Beast_in_the_Shadows

Hmm, might have to give this one a look over when I go to pick up Ravagers.

Edited by Fantasgasmic

I give it 8 issues before they announce what is going to fill this slot. This idea only kinda worked when it was Ben 10 (but not any of the sequels).

Posted by JonesDeini

I was worried about this and books like Animal Man/Swamp Thing having to use kid gloves and play nice. But honestly DCs been content to let these books play to their strengths. I love that they're just simply allowing each writer to tell their story as it should be told...organically. The Swamp Thing/Animal Man, I Vampire/JLD,& Batman crossovers are fine examples of how the DCnU is getting it right. I trust that Dial H will be allowed to live up to its potential and Mieville will not be artistically inhibited. Honestly the New 52 over all has been a pretty dreary, violent dark place...even in titles where that aesthetic makes zero sense. So why stop the books that make natural sense having those elements and furthermore implements them well from doing exactly that? All things considered these Vertigo Light books in the Dark line are doing pretty well.

Edited by Bobzenub

@Fantasgasmic: Ironically, it was the creators of Ben 10 who ripped off the H-Dial concept, presumambly from the critically acclaimed, yet mostly unknown gem, H-E-R-O.

To me, the issue was a solid 5/5. China Miéville is a masterful writer and it shows through this comic as well.

Posted by Sekele

@zackattack529:

Not sure, seeing Hal Jordan getting traumatized out of his mind could be worth the money XD

Posted by Gordon Kelly

I have read the old Dial H For Hero in the House Of Mystery series they where awsome.Now with the relanch on the Second Wave its nice to start over again to read this series to was a bit strange to me and a little silly and it is a good book to read for beginers to read DC Comics.

Posted by SyncGirl

@Bobzenub: Mateus Santolouco,a fellow countryman of mine is going to do the artwork and seeing his previoulsy work,I think it's going to be freaking cool.Regarding Ben 10,I think it's common sense that even if the boy had to use a suppository to change his DNA instead of the Omnitrix(the so called dial rip off) ,this show would still be a major hit. He would probably be said to be an alien non-green version of Mutano in a Shazam-like-trip with his MIB grandpa,though...but not a rip off XD Ben 10's aliens,the series' big appeal, have a much better design and super powers than the heroes of 60's, 80's and even the 2003 version of Dial H for Hero comics,thanks to Thomas Perkins from Cartoon Network.With the exception of Fourarms (an easter egg in the series based on a Green Lantern),WayBig( a Ultraman tribute),ChamAlien an obviously reference to Randall Boggs from "Monsters, Inc" and Big Chill (whose design is similar to Blue Beetle from DC comics),the other 50 aliens,some of them unnecessary, are 100 %original and the story "respects" children's intelligence..The FOX news spoofs in Ultimate Alien are also priceless,I must say.I mean,if you look closely,Superman/Goku,Tim Drake/Harry Potter, Battle Royale/Hunger Games all have the same concept,specially the last ones,but most of them detaches one from the other in it's core.